Pinterest Hidden Image

Get into the holiday spirit with the Your Morning Basket Podcast’s special episode, “The Team’s Favorite Christmas Books.” Join host Pam Barnhill as she welcomes Betsy Cypress, Meg Angelino, Genie Shaw, Ali Madej, Jeanette Pascua, Laney Homan, Katy Wallace, and Dawn Garrett as they share their personal favorite Christmas picture books and family traditions. From heartwarming stories to meaningful activities, you’ll discover new books to read and find inspiration for creating meaningful traditions with your own family. Don’t miss out on this festive episode that will add warmth and joy to your holiday season.

Pam Barnhill [00:00:04]:

Are you ready for homeschooling to feel joyful again? Do you want to build closer relationships, remove some of the stress around planning, and enjoy learning with your children? Welcome to your morning basket. I’m Pam Barnhill, a homeschool mom just like you, and I’m going to show you the magic and fulfillment that Morning Basket or Morning time can bring to your home school. Grab your coffee or tea and let’s get started. Welcome to episode 144 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. This one is such a delight. It is the Your Morning Basket podcast team’s favorite picture books. And so we have a number of team members here today, from our podcast producer to our graphic designer to everyone in between telling you not only their favorite Christmas book, but also their favorite family Christmas tradition. So you’re going to be filling your cart with so many new books to read and also getting some ideas for traditions you can do with your own kids.

Pam Barnhill [00:01:05]:

Now we also have our Christmas tradition morning time explorations. You can get those absolutely for free. Our gift to you by coming to Christmas. So come on over and get those Christmas tradition explorations and enjoy the podcast. My first guest today is Laney Homan. Laney is the member success manager for Your Morning Basket Plus and just an all around helpful person. Laney, welcome to the podcast.

Laney Homan [00:01:38]:

Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Pam Barnhill [00:01:40]:

Okay, so what is your family’s favorite Christmas book? And I have a feeling you didn’t stick to the assignment.

Laney Homan [00:01:52]:

Well, I kind of did. I have two favorite Christmas books.

Pam Barnhill [00:01:58]:

Of course you do.

Laney Homan [00:01:59]:

But I will go with the first one. And that is we use The Legend of the Christmas Tree. It was written by Rick Osborne and it ties into one of our favorite family traditions for the holidays. And so when we set up our Christmas tree every year, this is the center of our Christmas traditions. And we do it usually in November. Depends on whether we’re traveling for Thanksgiving or not. Sometimes if we’re traveling for Thanksgiving, we usually try to do it before Thanksgiving so that when we come home, we’re all set and the house is decorated. We are not slow decorate, over advent kind of people.

Laney Homan [00:02:42]:

We like to get it all done at once and then all of our decorating happens around this and we use The Legend of the Christmas Tree to kick it off. We always have a family meal together and I read the book while the kids are eating. I have even been known to make the exact meal that is mentioned in the book for my family. And then in the book, they travel to a Christmas tree farm and they go find their Christmas tree and they learn about how the Christmas tree represents Jesus and it really points to the manger and all of these beautiful things. And so that’s kind of how we kick off our Christmas season every year is we read the legend of the Christmas tree, and then after dinner, we decorate our tree. We have an artificial tree because allergies yeah.

Pam Barnhill [00:03:35]:

Okay, so this is like a picture book, then. Okay. Is a picture book, but you read it with kids who are all the way up to what age?

Laney Homan [00:03:45]:

Well, my 24 year old and his wife still come and sit and listen. So anybody my parents were here one year, so they’re 75.

Pam Barnhill [00:03:57]:

And I just think that goes and this is going to come up over and over again, especially those holiday picture books are just so great for all different ages. How many years have you been reading this book?

Laney Homan [00:04:11]:

My mother gosh, I wish I would have actually gotten our copy out, because it has the date in it and I don’t know, but my mother in law gave us this book when my oldest two boys were pretty little, and I mean, it could have been as long as, like, 2006, something like that. She wrote the date and a message to the boys when she gave them this book when they were young. But we’ve been doing it for a long time, I think probably as long as they can remember doing Christmas. This is what we did. This actually kind of is a great like I said, because I said, I have two books.

Pam Barnhill [00:04:48]:

Okay, tell me the other one. I’m going to let you tell the other one.

Laney Homan [00:04:51]:

The other one is not a picture book per se. It’s actually called the Adventure of Christmas helping children find Jesus in our holiday traditions. It’s by Lisa Welshell. It has all kinds of stuff in it. It is really just a book full of activities, but it also has stories, and it just really highlights a lot of the beautiful things about the season and that really help to kind of point our kids to Jesus and the cross and the whole reason why we’re celebrating Christmas in the first place. And when my oldest two boys were probably three and four, we really kind of came to this place where we wanted our holidays to be very meaningful and we wanted to be very intentional about the traditions that we set up around our holidays to make sure that we were actually intentionally teaching no matter what holiday we were celebrating. So we spent a lot of time, my husband and I did, thinking about what traditions we wanted to develop around Christmas for our family that weren’t necessarily the same as the traditions that we had grown up with. And my sister gave me this book.

Laney Homan [00:06:02]:

She had gone to someplace where Lisa Welshell was, and she actually had it signed, and she gave me this book. And it was really at a time where I hadn’t even really shared with my outside family what I was trying to do with our traditions. But this book was really a great help to me in that, and so I still pull it out and, like, it does it has, like, little read aloud things. It’s got the Story of St. Nicholas in it. Last year, we actually read that because we had a new person joining us for some of our family traditions, and he did not know the actual story of St. Nicholas and so where the idea of Santa Claus came from. And so we read that portion of The Adventure of Christmas on the same night that we were setting up the Christmas tree.

Laney Homan [00:06:47]:

But, yeah, books are really a huge part of kind of what we do, but those two books in particular, really, they highlight the reasons why we want to celebrate Christmas, and they help to focus our kids on that. They still get caught up in all the excitement of Christmas, but we try to be really intentional about the traditions that we have and giving them meaning so that the kids have a better understanding of why we do certain things, and we use books to help teach that.

Pam Barnhill [00:07:15]:

I love it. I love it so much. Well, that is awesome, Lainey. And go check those books out. Thanks, Lainey.

Laney Homan [00:07:23]:

You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

Pam Barnhill [00:07:27]:

I’m here with Meg Angelino, our next guest. She is our operations manager here at your Morning Basket. Meg, welcome to the show.

Meg Angelino [00:07:37]:

Thanks, Pam.

Pam Barnhill [00:07:39]:

So Meg’s been on the podcast before, and she homeschools in Connecticut. She has two kids. She’s homeschooling. So, Meg, tell us about your favorite Christmas book.

Meg Angelino [00:07:50]:

Oh, it’s so hard to choose just one. There’s so many great ones out there. I think that if I have to choose just one, I’m going to go ahead and choose Mortimer’s Christmas and Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson. And it’s just such a cute, sweet and it I think the reason I love it is it brings things back to the heart of what Christmas is. So I think that one might be my favorite right now.

Pam Barnhill [00:08:21]:

Okay. I have not read that Karma Wilson book, and I love so, you know, obviously, we’ve read the Bear books, bear Snores on and yeah, all of that. And then she has some beautiful books about various psalms that she did, I think, with Saundervan. And those are just fabulous ones. We have one of those that’s more of a thankful I think it’s Psalm 100. It might be Psalm 93 or something, but it has a thankful theme, and we usually read it around Thanksgiving time, and it’s just a beautiful, beautiful book. But I was not aware of Mortimer’s Christmas Manger, so now I’m going to have to go look this up.

Meg Angelino [00:09:01]:

It is such a cute karma, classic Karma Wilson illustrations with just like just adorable. So it’s about a little mouse who finds the family’s nativity and he sees it as his little house. And so he’s so excited. So he keeps dragging out baby Jesus out of the like as you kind of get to the highlight of the know, the climax. He hears the story of the nativity of baby Jesus and he realizes the importance of it and he puts all the little figures back into the crash, then finds a little gingerbread house to live in. It’s such a sweet book, and I think part of the reason I love it is it brings things back to where Christmas is supposed to be.

Pam Barnhill [00:09:55]:

Oh, that’s so much fun. Okay, so if you’re listening, you’re noticing a theme here in the favorite books and why the team members have chosen them as their favorites. But there is another theme running under here that Meg also chose more than one book. So Meg, what’s another favorite Christmas book?

Meg Angelino [00:10:14]:

Wombat Divine by Mem Fox.

Pam Barnhill [00:10:18]:

We’re going down under. Yeah, that.

Meg Angelino [00:10:23]:

Like I know this is past the time, but what goes so perfectly with our Australia explorations? Yes, but again, it’s just an adorable animal, super cute. And then it’s about a little wombat who’s trying to figure out what his part is in the nativity play, and he tries all these different parts and does not fit in any of them. He’s too this and to that for each of the parts, and then he ends up playing baby Jesus. It’s again, just a really cute brings things back to Christ and just a warm and fun book with beautiful illustrations.

Pam Barnhill [00:11:05]:

I love it. I love it. Okay, so two fabulous books to add to your collection for this Christmas. Now, Meg, I asked Laney yesterday, so you tell me, what is your family’s favorite Christmas tradition?

Meg Angelino [00:11:20]:

That’s a tough one too, because we are big Advent. We do advent schooling. We’ve done it every year. And I love doing kind of the Christmas school thing. I think though, a perennial favorite. And this actually goes back to my family when I was growing up. So my siblings do it too. And my mom is building gingerbread houses.

Meg Angelino [00:11:41]:

So that’s something that we’ve done together for years. And we have like a from scratch recipe and it’s just something that we love to do and sometimes it gets a little competitive, but it’s super fun.

Pam Barnhill [00:11:54]:

Oh, that sounds super fun. Okay, so we build gingerbread houses too, but we always build them from the kits, from the store. And I have to tell you my secret for gingerbread houses. If you wait, if you celebrate the twelve days of Christmas, starting on the 25th and going through January 6, if you wait until January 20, December 26 or 27th and go to the store, they put all the gingerbread houses on clearance at that point. That’s a good way to do it. And you can get them super cheap and bring them home and like on the 20 eigth or 29th, say, hey, it’s like the fourth day of Christmas, let’s build gingerbread houses. And you didn’t pay nearly as much for your gingerbread house kit, but kudos to you guys for doing it from scratch because that sounds crazy hard.

Meg Angelino [00:12:39]:

It’s not as hard as it sounds, but it is a labor of love. But the other nice thing is because we typically do them kind of earlier, so that that way we can give them out as gifts. So they make great neighbor gifts or landlord gifts if you’re renting or maybe a pastoral gift. People always love them and the kids love doing them.

Pam Barnhill [00:13:06]:

So much better than a fruitcake.

Meg Angelino [00:13:09]:

Oh, yes, absolutely.

Pam Barnhill [00:13:11]:

Well, thanks, Meg.

Meg Angelino [00:13:13]:

Anytime, Pam.

Pam Barnhill [00:13:17]:

So right now I’m joined by Dawn Garrett, who is the community manager here at your Morning Basket. And there’s a theme going with all of these interviews that people are having a very hard time narrowing their books down.

Dawn Garrett [00:13:34]:

Dawn, Christmas books are a thing I decorate with books all year round, but at Christmas time, that much more.

Pam Barnhill [00:13:45]:

All right, well, I am making Dawn limit herself to two authors and be general about the books. So go ahead, Dawn, and give us one of your favorites.

Dawn Garrett [00:13:58]:

Okay. I love Madeleine L’Engle. She is one of my favorite authors all of the time. And she has two or three. I only grabbed two. She has two or three. They’re kind of that between picture book and chapter book kind of a thing that are Advent books, christmas Books, the 24 Days Before Christmas and A Full House and Austin Family Christmas. They are in her Austin family world, and one of them, Mother, is expecting a baby, and so they’re preparing for Christmas while Mother is waiting for a little brother or a little sister.

Dawn Garrett [00:14:35]:

One of them, their favorite babysitter, has gotten into trouble, and so she is moving in with the family. And so there’s some things going on with that. Maybe this one would be for older young teens.

Pam Barnhill [00:14:48]:

So that’s a full house for slightly older kids. And would you read these aloud, Dawn, or would you hand them over to the kids and let them read them either way?

Dawn Garrett [00:14:57]:

I think they are not like Advent Books where there’s the same amount of a section. So every day you read a little that’s that’s not how these are set up. So I have read these aloud to my kids. My kids have read them. I think it’s fine either way.

Pam Barnhill [00:15:17]:

Okay. Yes.

Dawn Garrett [00:15:18]:

So I love Madeiline L’Engle.

Pam Barnhill [00:15:20]:

I had no idea she wrote it’s like Wrinkle in Time. And there’s the extent of.

Dawn Garrett [00:15:27]:

Favorite one of my favorite authors, he writes such a wide variety and so many interesting things. And her writing is just she uses the English language like no one else, and I love it.

Pam Barnhill [00:15:39]:

Okay, so another question about these, and you may not know the exact answer right now. Are these in print?

Dawn Garrett [00:15:46]:

I know the 24 Days Before Christmas has been brought back into print. It was out of print for a while, and I think it’s back into print now. I’m not sure about the full house. I definitely have a used, like, a library discard copy that I bought.

Pam Barnhill [00:15:59]:

Okay, so maybe check your library, though, sadly, the state of libraries these days, they’re getting rid of a lot of these great older gems like this. But check your library check or your library book sale. Yeah, your library book sale, but also used books and things like that for that one. Okay, so who is your second author?

Dawn Garrett [00:16:17]:

Okay, my second one is for mom, and this is for the mom who really wants to dig into the early church fathers and learn more about kind of our shared common idea, the common idea of the Incarnation and why it’s so important. And it’s on the Incarnation by Athanasius, and it sounds super intimidating, and it’s not. So it’s not actually a Christmas book per se, but it’s hugely appropriate during the Advent season thinking about how and why Jesus came as a human and fully human, fully God. He came for us, and that’s why we celebrate Christmas.

Pam Barnhill [00:17:03]:

I love this so much because this sounds like it would just make a great Advent devotional.

Dawn Garrett [00:17:07]:

For sure, for sure. And the addition I have, the popular Patristic series has an introduction by C. S. Lewis, which is fantastic. This is the introduction where he talks about why it’s important to read. Mean, it’s not the easiest ever to read, but it is readable. You just have to kind of take your time and think through it. But it’s a great way to start with some early church fathers.

Pam Barnhill [00:17:36]:

Yeah, and you know what? Read just a little snippets of it every morning. And if you don’t, or every evening or whenever it is you moms get a chance to read, especially during this busy season. For me, it would be in the morning, but if you don’t get all the way through it the first year, don’t beat yourself up. And then next year, pick it up and read some more. And it’s totally okay.

Dawn Garrett [00:17:59]:

It’s 110 pages, so it’s not very long, and it’s definitely worth your time, I think. And 110 pages, including the introduction, which is telling you about Athanasius and why he wrote this. So it’s 50 pages. 49 to 110.

Pam Barnhill [00:18:17]:

Yeah, you definitely do that. Favorite Christmas tradition for your family?

Dawn Garrett [00:18:23]:

Well, I’m going to go beyond Christmas books. We take a day with my parents, and we bake all day. We have a baking day, and we make all of the cookies, all of the breads, all of the things for the whole season. It’s like all day long, we decorate cookies. It’s quite a production, but we have so much fun with it. And I think my kids at this point would be like, but we’re not doing baking day.

Pam Barnhill [00:18:56]:

Okay, so when do you do baking day?

Dawn Garrett [00:18:59]:

We typically do it well. We used to organize our whole school year around Advent, and so this was a school day, a secret school day. During our off time. And we usually did it early, like the first week after Thanksgiving.

Pam Barnhill [00:19:18]:


Dawn Garrett [00:19:19]:

Because my mom liked to give cookies to friends and make platters of cookies to give away and stuff like that and have them to take to different events. So we always did it relatively early. She would freeze hearts and they would hold until Christmas for sure. But now the last couple of years we’ve done it at my house, we make a fewer cookies because I don’t give as many away, but we still make a lot.

Pam Barnhill [00:19:46]:

Love it. Love it so much. Well, thank you, Dawn.

Dawn Garrett [00:19:49]:

Thank you.

Pam Barnhill [00:19:53]:

All right, so my next guest is Betsy Cypress and she is one of our moms here at YMB, but also she is a writer for us. And so she writes our Wonderworld podcast that Olivia and I do. So if you haven’t checked out that podcast and all of the fun facts and everything that Betsy finds for us to share, do go check that out in your favorite podcast app. And Betsy also does some of our curriculum writing as well. Betsy, welcome to the podcast.

Betsy Cypress [00:20:23]:

Thank you so much.

Pam Barnhill [00:20:24]:

Or I should say welcome back because you were on not that long ago to talk about Wonderworld. So share with us your favorite Christmas book.

Betsy Cypress [00:20:35]:

Okay, my favorite Christmas book is called One Wintry Night and it’s by Ruth Belgram and it is all about the true story of Christmas, but told in a fictionalized way. So a little boy who gets lost in a snowstorm and I won’t ruin it, but it has a really happy ending and it has gorgeous art, huge big pictures, like full page pictures and it’s really worth it even just for that. But it’s a great story.

Pam Barnhill [00:21:05]:

I love it. So you’ve been reading this one with your kids for a while now.

Betsy Cypress [00:21:09]:

So I actually bought it before I was even dating my husband for my future kids.

Pam Barnhill [00:21:17]:


Betsy Cypress [00:21:18]:

And we have been reading it for well, our oldest is 18, so a long time.

Pam Barnhill [00:21:25]:

Every year a long time. Okay, so what makes a single young lady go out and buy a picture book? I mean, did you buy it with the intention that you were going to read it to your kids one day or did you just buy it because you liked it?

Betsy Cypress [00:21:42]:

Well, I was actually at a conference in Sacramento, California, and they were selling all kinds of books and I’ve always been a book lover. I saw this one and my mom was with me. I saw it. She saw it. It was gorgeous. She bought it for my cousins who were young nieces and nephews of hers. And I knew I just had to have one too. And that one day I was going to be married and have kids and I would read it to them.

Betsy Cypress [00:22:07]:

And really what drew me in was the gorgeous colors and then the fact that it does explain the story from Christmas to Easter and the resurrection in a very child friendly, understandable way.

Pam Barnhill [00:22:26]:

I love it. Oh, that’s such a great story. Okay, so my second question well, I think I’ve asked you three or four questions now, but if we’re going to get technical, but my next question is Christmas traditions. What is your family’s favorite Christmas tradition?

Betsy Cypress [00:22:42]:

So I asked my kids about this, and they all had a different answer, but they all said time together. And in the city where we live, we have a Christmas parade every year, and we have something called Living Windows every year. So we love going to the Christmas parade, either watching it or many years we’ve been in the parade with our American Heritage Girls Troop and Trail Life Troop. And then Living Windows is where the stores are all closed, all the little shops downtown are closed, and then people come and do things in the windows at night, and you walk around and look at it. So somebody might be playing the piano, somebody might be playing the clarinet. There might be ballet dancers, there might be a skit going on or a choir, or people are giving away hot chocolate and cookies and all kinds of things. And you just go from shop to shop and view all kinds of people’s fun talents, and everyone’s dressed in Christmas attire, and it’s just really fun.

Pam Barnhill [00:23:46]:

Oh, that does sound fun. That just sounds absolutely delightful. So what a great way to spend an evening in December seeing everything. So that’s really cool. Well, thank you, Betsy.

Betsy Cypress [00:23:57]:

Thank you. Merry Christmas.

Pam Barnhill [00:23:59]:

Merry Christmas. All right, so my next guest is Miss Allie Made, and she is our social media liaison here at your Morning Basket. Ali, welcome to the podcast.

Ali Madej [00:24:13]:

Thank you for having me.

Pam Barnhill [00:24:15]:

Go ahead and share with us what is your favorite Christmas book over here?

Ali Madej [00:24:19]:

We love. Merry Christmas Strega Nona by Tomie dePoala.

Pam Barnhill [00:24:24]:

Yes, such a good favorite.

Ali Madej [00:24:28]:

It’s our favorite lately because as my kids get older, I like ones that can span all the ages of the kids, and this one does, and it has a great message with the spirit of Christmas, and it has elements in there that are traditions that we like, like the Advent wreath and attending Christmas Eve Mass. And it’s all in there.

Pam Barnhill [00:24:48]:

I love it. I love it so much. So do you read that one every year? Is that something that you found recently or have you been reading it a while?

Ali Madej [00:24:57]:

We’ve been reading it every year. Maybe for the past. I don’t want to not three or four years.

Pam Barnhill [00:25:03]:

Maybe that yeah, because I was just actually talking to Betsy about hers, and she actually bought her favorite Christmas book before she even got married.

Ali Madej [00:25:13]:

Ours evolve more I would find I found one last year just from our Advent plans that I love, and now that’s a new one. So ours evolve and we buy new christmas books probably every year.

Pam Barnhill [00:25:25]:

Okay, so what’s the one from the.

Ali Madej [00:25:26]:

Advent plans is the Advent of Christmas, the Matt Maher. He has those beautiful songs and the beautiful Advent album, and that was my second choice because this goes along with.

Pam Barnhill [00:25:39]:

And I love that Christmas. Well, Advent Christmas album. I love it so much. It is just absolutely yeah. I just love listening to it for the entire season. So, yeah, definitely get a thumbs up for me on that one. Okay, favorite Christmas tradition for you and your kids?

Ali Madej [00:25:59]:

So ours the kids always say it’s putting up the Christmas tree. So we put up the Christmas tree every year on Thanksgiving. That’s their favorite. And then I also love we do the Advent wreath in the morning with our morning time and a Jesse tree devotional from Catholic Sprouts. And I think the combination of that, having the Christmas tree up and then the Advent wreath, those are our oh.

Pam Barnhill [00:26:21]:

I love, love, love it. Okay, so by the time Nancy had really developed Catholic Sprouts, my kids were too old for has. She has some fabulous stuff, and if you are a Catholic family looking for a Christmas gift this year, she has a great book on Catholic social teaching, and we will link it for you in the show notes of this. I highly recommend that book. That is for a little bit older kids. But yeah, her stuff and her Advent Jesse tree stuff, that’s absolutely fabulous as well. The kids like it.

Ali Madej [00:26:56]:

There’s ornaments in this set that we have, and I think it’s still available. There’s ornaments that you color and laminate and then hang on a little tree, and the devotionals are great. So yes.

Pam Barnhill [00:27:06]:

Well, Ali, thank you so much for joining me and sharing your favorite Christmas stuff with us.

Ali Madej [00:27:11]:

Thank you for having me.

Pam Barnhill [00:27:16]:

My next guest is Miss Katy Wallace. Katy is a homeschooling mom of two, and she is the graphic designer. She makes everything so pretty here at your morning basket. Katy, welcome to the

Katy: hey. Hey.

Pam Barnhill: So glad to have you on. This is the first time you’ve ever been on. I know.

Katy: It’s so exciting.

Pam Barnhill: It is. So if you if you haven’t noticed the similarity of accents, Katy also lives in Alabama. Yes, I do. We live just, you know, a few hours from each other. Well, Katy, tell us what is your family’s favorite Christmas book?

Katy Wallace: Well, it’s the classic, of course. The Night Before Christmas. It’s just one that we have almost know because we’ve read it so many times, and it’s just the one that immediately comes to mind. That is our family’s favorite.

Pam Barnhill [00:28:04]:

Okay, so, now, that is a classic poem, and, yeah, it would be easy to memorize because the rhythm of it is so great. Now, if you have the book in front of you, is there a particular illustrator? Because even though the same guy wrote the words, there have been so many different versions of this book.

Katy Wallace:

Yes, I used to want it’s the classic edition illustrated by Charles Centauri and just has such beautiful illustrations, like when we’re reading through it. And because we’ve read through it so many times, you can almost see the pictures as we’re reading it, even without looking at the book. But it’s beautifully illustrated by him, so it’s our favorite. I love it. Okay, good, because I wanted people to know which one to go and look for.

Pam Barnhill [00:28:49]:

All right, so what is your family’s favorite Christmas tradition?

Katy Wallace:

Our favorite tradition, I think, is my kids may disagree. My favorite is we all pile in the car and go look at Christmas lights. Now, we don’t do this on a particular day. My husband is a firefighter, so our Christmases look a little different. We don’t just have a set schedule of how things work around here, so we just do it when he’s free, but we always make sure that he’s home. All four of us pile in, and we go look at some Christmas lights. We have a beautiful farm nearby here that just really goes all out, and that’s one of our favorite things to do.

Pam Barnhill [00:29:30]:

I love that so much. That’s actually one of our family’s favorite traditions. And we always add and this is not sponsored, by the way, but we always add the chickfila peppermint chip milkshakes. That sounds good. The kids know it’s coming. And around here, it’s typically not horribly cold at Christmas time. It might be a little chilly.

Katy Wallace:

I would like to say it was us curled up under a blanket by a fire with hot cocoa, but that just doesn’t always happen around here. No, it doesn’t.

Pam Barnhill [00:30:02]:

So we go get our milkshake, and even if it’s cold, we just run the heater in the car and go look at the Christmas light. So I 100% approve of that tradition. It’s a favorite around here, too.

Katy Wallace: Awesome. I’ll have to add in the milkshake this year. That sounds fun. Yeah. You can tell your kids to thank me later, so I will.

Pam Barnhill [00:30:22]:

Thanks, Katie.

Katy Wallace:

Thank you.

So my next guest is Jeanette Pascua, and I am so excited to have her here. Jeanette has two roles at your Morning Basket. She is our podcast producer, so she does, like, all of our research and question writing and stuff for the podcast because you really didn’t think I was doing all of that myself. Right. And then she also is our proofreader for all of our products and things here. So, Jeanette, welcome to the podcast.

Jeanette Pascua [00:30:53]:

Thanks for having me.

Pam Barnhill [00:30:54]:

Okay, favorite picture.

Jeanette Pascua [00:30:57]:

Hands down. For our holiday season, we use Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: a Family Celebration of Christmas by Anne Voskamp.

Pam Barnhill [00:31:06]:

Okay, so how long have you guys been using that one, and what do you love about it?

Jeanette Pascua [00:31:10]:

I think we’ve been using it for a couple of years. We have tried a lot of different we’re really big Jesse Tree people. We love the Jesse Tree. Been using that as a mode of preparing our hearts for Christmas since my kids were very tiny. And so I love the book because it is very well put together. It has a beautiful story. The way she writes is just so beautiful, and she tells the story of God’s plan so well. And obviously, the illustrations are gorgeous. And so we’ve been using that book for a couple of years.

Jeanette Pascua [00:31:48]:

We’ve tried a lot of different Jesse Tree books over the years, but that’s the one we finally settled on, and I could not do Advent without that book.

Pam Barnhill [00:31:56]:

I love it. Okay, so my second question for you is, favorite Christmas tradition in your household?

Jeanette Pascua [00:32:04]:

Well, it’s kind of one and the same, because we do the Jesse Tree. That is the biggest thing that we do. My kids look forward to it every year. We have multiple sets of ornaments that we use for different spots in our house. But I think maybe just the way that we do our Advent calendar or Advent wreath time, because we light the Advent wreath, we read the Jesse Tree Book, the book I was just referring to. And then at the end, after everybody’s done their individual prayer, because we let the kids go around and say a little prayer of what they want to pray for that day, and then they always get a Hershey Kiss. So every night, we sweeten the deal With a Hershey Kiss.

Pam Barnhill [00:32:46]:

I love it. So it’s kind of like extra special Advent bribery going. Yes. Yeah.

Jeanette Pascua [00:32:54]:

It’s just become a part of the tradition. So every single night after they’ve sat through the prayer, because it is a little bit longer of a prayer than normal, because they’re listening to this whole devotional and the whole nine yards. So, yeah, we sweeten the deal a little bit at Christmas time or during Advent, and we let them have a Hershey Kiss every night.

Pam Barnhill [00:33:12]:

I love it. I love it so much. Okay, so totally kind of unrelated memory, but related. This makes me think back, and I can think of where we were living. And so Thomas had to be less than a year old. So my kids were really young, and I had seen this idea online where you took, like, Kisses, Hershey’s Kisses for each of your kids, and you put them, wrapped them up in cellophane, and you tied each individual piece. And so every day, you would untie a piece of the cellophane, and then the kisses would come out, and the kids would get them, and you would count down to Christmas. And so I spent one evening painstakingly tying all these up, and I think, like, the very next day, my then youngest, he would be my middle child now, ate all of the Hershey’s Kisses.

Jeanette Pascua [00:33:56]:

Oh, no.

Pam Barnhill [00:33:58]:

And he was like, maybe two and a half.

Jeanette Pascua [00:34:01]:

Oh, no.

Pam Barnhill [00:34:03]:

I was like, well, there went that Christmas tradition we’re not ever doing that again. So I love it. I absolutely love your Christmas tradition of having the Hershey’s Kisses, and I think that’s fabulous to just sweeten the deal a little bit. I love it. Yeah. Thank you.

Jeanette Pascua [00:34:21]:

No problem.

Pam Barnhill [00:34:25]:

My next guest today is Miss Genie Shaw. And, Genie, gosh, you’ve been around for a long time, haven’t you? Like six or seven years. Yes.

Genie Shaw [00:34:35]:

I can’t even remember. Don’t make me lie and not look it up.

Pam Barnhill [00:34:41]:

Jenny has been on the team for quite a while, and she writes all of our Catholic material, so our Catholic morning time plans and our Catholic devotions and all of those things. And we’re just so happy to have her. And I’m going to let you tell how many kids you have because I’m going to be honest, I lost track.

Genie Shaw [00:35:00]:

Some days I lose track. We just had our 9th baby on DDay, 6/6.

Pam Barnhill [00:35:07]:


Genie Shaw [00:35:08]:

And he’s our 6th boy. So we’re having a lot of fun with him while he’s still in that squishy stage.

Pam Barnhill [00:35:15]:

I love the squishy stage so much, and I haven’t got to hold this one yet, so we’re going to have to meet up so that I can actually get to hold him. Well, it is awesome to have you here. And Jenny homeschools all of those children who are school age from her home in Texas, where she lives with her husband. So, Genie, tell me, what is your favorite Christmas book?

Genie Shaw [00:35:37]:

My personal one, and it’s a chapter book. It’s really sweet. Is The Bird’s Christmas Carol. And it’s by the same author who wrote Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. So that would be Kate Douglas Wigan. I don’t want to give the whole thing away, but it’s about a family, and they’re putting on a dinner for their neighbors, and it’s just kind of like preparing for that and just kind of how that night transpires. And it’s a tear jerker. So I’m not going to give away.

Pam Barnhill [00:36:03]:

Not going to give away too much. Okay. So does it have something to do with music? Because the thing we forgot to mention about you is that you do all of our music plans, so yes, there’s.

Genie Shaw [00:36:14]:

A lot of music in it. And the daughter’s name is Carol, so that’s kind of her connection with Carol thing.

Pam Barnhill [00:36:25]:

Really neat. Love it. Okay, so the other question I’ve been asking everybody is, what is your family’s favorite Christmas tradition?

Genie Shaw [00:36:34]:

Well, Christmas time, we try to get a lot of different traditions in there, but I think the simpler ones are the ones that I don’t have to think about are my favorite because I tend to get to them more easily, and they’re not as big a stressor. But one of them that we do, and it’s throughout Advent, we just light an additional birthday candle each day on a little wooden it’s like just a piece of wood my boys drilled holes into. So we have birthday candles that lead.

Pam Barnhill [00:37:03]:

Up to the birth of Jesus.

Genie Shaw [00:37:05]:

And it gets brighter and brighter each day of Advent. And then we’ve got a huge thing on the piano all lit up on Christmas Eve and Christmas. So that’s kind of like the big climax of they’re all finally lit. And it’s big and bright. Simple, but really beautiful.

Pam Barnhill [00:37:21]:

So is this in addition to your regular Advent wreath, or do you use this as a replacement for your Advent wreath?

Genie Shaw [00:37:28]:

It’s in addition, we have the wreath, like, on the table at dinner time. And this is, like, on the back of the piano. So it’s like a four x four. It was just like a piece of wood. They literally just, like, drilled little holes in. And it’s about, I don’t know, I’d say three foot long, maybe a little less, maybe like 30 inches long, just to sit on the back of the piano there.

Pam Barnhill [00:37:50]:

And anything like a birthday candle every single day. Yeah, that’s it. I love it. What a great tradition that is. And you’re right. So simple. And you’re lighting the Advent candle anyway, but just a great little tradition that you can have and add to what you’re doing as you go through the holiday season. So I love it so much.

Genie Shaw [00:38:12]:


Genie Shaw [00:38:12]:

Boys and fire. I mean, you can’t go wrong with that’ll. Keep their attention, for sure. That will keep them captivated.

Pam Barnhill [00:38:20]:

That is exactly right. Well, if you would like more liturgical ideas for Catholic families, do go check out Genie’s blog. She blogs at Barefoot Abbey. And it’s yes. Yeah.

Genie Shaw [00:38:32]:

Super simple.

Pam Barnhill [00:38:33]:

Awesome. Love it so much. Thanks for being here, Genie. Well, I suppose I would be absolutely remiss if I did not tell you a couple of my favorite Christmas books. And like everyone else, I had such a hard time choosing. And I am going to choose The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. By Barbara Robinson. This one is all about how the horrible Herdmans kind of found redemption and learned the true story of Jesus and also taught the other members of their town something about the Christmas story as well.

Pam Barnhill [00:39:07]:

Such a delightful small chapter book. Read it with my kids again just last year, and then, like everyone else, I chose more than one favorite. Another favorite is The Nativity by Julie Vivas. Now, this one takes the words from the Gospels that talks about the birth of Jesus. But Julie Vivas added her utterly delightful illustrations they’re non traditional illustrations to this story of the. And I love, love, love it so much. I find this book absolutely charming, and so go and check that one out as well. So thank you so much for joining us here today.

Pam Barnhill [00:39:45]:

And don’t forget to go and download your own Christmas tradition. Morning time explorations. These are our free gift to you. A full set of Morning Time exploration plans that you can do with your family during the holiday season. Thanks so much for listening to your morning basket. If you are ready to spend less time planning and more time engaged in learning with your children, join your morning basket plus a monthly membership with everything you need to start a morning time practice in your homeschool. To join. Head on over to and I’ll see you there.

Links and Resources From Today’s Show

Legend of the Christmas Tree, TheLegend of the Christmas Tree, TheThe Adventure of Christmas: Helping Children Find Jesus in Our Holiday TraditionsThe Adventure of Christmas: Helping Children Find Jesus in Our Holiday TraditionsMortimer's Christmas MangerMortimer’s Christmas MangerGive Thanks to the LordGive Thanks to the LordWombat Divine 21st Anniversary EditionWombat Divine 21st Anniversary EditionThe Twenty-four Days Before Christmas: An Austin Family StoryThe Twenty-four Days Before Christmas: An Austin Family StoryA Full House: An Austin Family ChristmasA Full House: An Austin Family ChristmasA Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, 1)A Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, 1)On the IncarnationOn the IncarnationOn the Incarnation: Saint Athanasius (Greek/English) PPS44a (Popular Patristics) (English and Greek Edition)On the Incarnation: Saint Athanasius (Greek/English) PPS44a (Popular Patristics) (English and Greek Edition)One Wintry Night: A Classic Retelling of the Christmas Story, from Creation to the ResurrectionOne Wintry Night: A Classic Retelling of the Christmas Story, from Creation to the ResurrectionMerry Christmas, Strega Nona (A Strega Nona Book)Merry Christmas, Strega Nona (A Strega Nona Book)The Advent of ChristmasThe Advent of ChristmasThe Night Before Christmas Hardcover: The Classic Edition, The New York Times Bestseller (Christmas Book)The Night Before Christmas Hardcover: The Classic Edition, The New York Times Bestseller (Christmas Book)Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of ChristmasUnwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of ChristmasThe Best Christmas Pageant EverThe Best Christmas Pageant EverThe Nativity: A Christmas Holiday Book for KidsThe Nativity: A Christmas Holiday Book for Kids


Key Ideas About Christmas Picture Books

  • Discover new Christmas picture books to enjoy with your family, including Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson and The Adventure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel.
  • Start your own family traditions inspired by the podcast team’s favorite activities, such as lighting a birthday candle for Jesus throughout Advent or visiting neighborhood Christmas light displays.

Find What You Want to Hear

  • [0:58] Miss Laney’s Favorite books
  • [7:15] Miss Meg’s Favorite books
  • [13:17] Miss Dawn’s Favorite books
  • [19:53] Miss Betsy’s Favorite books
  • [24:13] Miss Ali’s Favorite books
  • [27:16] Miss Katy’s Favorite books
  • [30:22] Miss Jeanette’s Favorite books
  • [34:35] Miss Genie’s Favorite books

Leave a Rating or Review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really is a blessing — and it’s easy!

  1. Click on this link to go to the podcast main page.
  2. Click on Listen on Apple Podcasts under the podcast name.
  3. Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! 

Thanks for Your Reviews